Just a reminder that I’ll be covering the USA Basketball training camp next week in Las Vegas as Damian Lillard tries to be one of 12 players selected to represent the United States at the 2014 FIBA World Cup (formerly known as the World Championships). The 19-players selected will participate in practice on the campus of UNLV from Monday through Thursday, after which they’ll play an inter-team scrimmage on Friday.
Lillard has been busy this summer between youth basketball camps, appearing at the ESPYS and traveling to the Philippines, but he’s also set aside ample time to prepare himself for the rigors of making a team comprised of the best basketball players in the world.
“I’ve been working out really hard,” said Lillard. “I want to be in shape because I’m not going to have the responsibility (on Team USA)) that I have for the Trail Blazers. I’ve been shooting a lot of shots, making sure my jumper is as tight as it can possibly be, because I know I’m going to have to be able to knock down shots if I want to give myself a chance to make that team. And I’ve got to be able to “D” up. Without having the same responsibility I do with the Trail Blazers, I’m going to be able to pick up full court for my eight, nine minutes or however long I’ll be on the floor and play those eight or nine minutes as hard as I can to give something to the team and be able to make shots. I’ve been preparing myself for that.”
Looking at the roster, one assumes that Lillard, who was one of the standouts of the 2013 USA Basketball minicamp last summer, has a great chance of making the team that will compete in Spain in September. With his three-point shooting and ability to play both guard positions, Lillard stacks up well against the other guards, including Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry, vying for one of 12 roster spots. And with usual Team USA stalwarts like Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant and Deron Williams all sitting out this cycle, Lillard’s chances of making the World Cup roster and establishing himself as a player worthy of consideration for the 2016 Olympics have never been better.
“I like my chances, said Lillard. “I’ve been hearing about people dropping out and stuff like that, but as a competitor, I liked my chances before that. Just because some guys have dropped out doesn’t mean I have a spot on the team, so I’m still going to go out there and compete and try to make an impression and get to the World Championships.”